Informal communication more engaging then formal one

Generation Z – as an enabler – unlock the full potential of cool technologies. And not just in consumer but in the business arena too even in customer services. The shift toward the online proved several expectations. Seems the right now, right here type of services is getting more and more dominant but it is not enough to enchant digitalized population. It must be EEEASY, it must be QUICK and dirty.  The new generation does not prefer any customer service that is very formalized. the informal way seems much acceptable. In the same time they do not expcet any visual services. It must be faceless. Strange, video was the promise of customer services for many years. It will engage the new generation, help customer more effectively but now we know it fails since it is complicated. It is formal and does not add substantial value to consumers. Technology may change that and the virtual reality and new type of display devices and humanization of technology like glasses and holograms bring the video back to the radar screen. Hardly wait …

“Large but achievable!”-  the sentence that sales professionals have already got used to it during performance settings period. Even though it seems a super challenge, their personal profile enables them to accept it and go for it. How customer services agents approach this topic using intrinsic motivation?

The transformation has been running for ages that customer services do not just serve customer requests but there is an increasing enterprise need to promote products and/or services during service calls.  The trick is that companies put a lot of energy to recruit and select agents with specified service profile and service experience. The more sophisticated the selection process was the higher the trouble we face with during that business transformation process. Simple our agents are not qualified to meet our expectation; they do not like to sale they like to provide service.

Traditional methods put carrot and stick on managers table to convince colleagues of a large target is good. Ohh sometime there are further gadgets in the toolbox to motivate people, like extra money, participation in incentive programs and the power of hierarchy.  Finally, target plan is accepted …. Without any buy-in from agents, without any real understanding what does it mean, without any idea how to deliver… and without any motivation to achieve it!

All the tools mentioned above belong to extrinsic motivation methods. Meanwhile, people behave primarily according to intrinsic motivators, that arise from within the individual. The fuel for intrinsic motivation is the internal reward, a kind of pleasure or sense of satisfaction one gets from a task.

So the mission is to place agents in such an environment where intrinsic motivation drives them to accept company expectation and increase their engagement level.

To complete this mission gamification can be a state of the art methodology. Gamification can provide a platform where intrinsic motivators effect is amplified and can drive agent actions aligned with their personality type. Gamified processes translate the business environment to a new, more engaging, user-centric world. It is easier to accept a game challenge than a work challenge so gamification help people to accept targets with more pleasure, with the better understanding and higher willingness to act accordingly.

It is important to notice that although gamification makes business processes more game-like by applying game mechanics, the gamification itself is not a game. Agents continue to work but the engagement level, working atmosphere and the point, the performance KPIs are improving.

Quarterly appraisal… no fun! Training evaluation… no fun! Formal feedback on cultural program – no fun!

Theoretically all the topics above are important not just for employer, but even for employee but to spend time and put effort to make it happen is a nasty, painful experience.

The professional community created – probably – a good framework and processes but the human being – the subject of the solution – again was missing from the list during system evaluation!

Current approaches are strict, formal, complex and unrelated to the colleagues – indeed. These issues even independently are showstoppers, but combining them together simple kill the user motivation to make the action.

Strange, even people ready share their opinion on the corridor, in the canteen or during breaks… but not in the system. How to get our employees to be a verbal mirror, to echo their assessment in the way that company can use it?

If we zoom out a little we can realise that the world is getting more and more informal:the way we live, the way we entertain, the way we learn and the way we work. The new generation less and less tolerate formality like deadlines, limitations, rules and it is soooo true for other generations too – but they tend not to stand up against it. STOP! Almost OFF topic but important: The current management might consider to change them and align these people with generation X and Baby boomers which is a wrong approach. We must live with them and get the most out of them while accepting what they are.

Once the informal trend is realised and acknowledged, we can start to think about the resolution. We need something that engaging enough for all our employees, something that is simple and related. Feedback systems should be :

  • simple,
  • related to our people,
  • clear purpose,
  • and do not forget the fun.

Gamification is a business approach that can help people to be engaged. Gamification transforms formal business processes into informal world of fun. Even gamification use game mechanics to serve this purpose, gamification is NOT a game. Employees continue to work, and their work performance drives game narrative. Gamified processes help in

  • training feedback and evaluation,
  • in people development and continuous manager2employee, or peer2peer verbal mirroring,
  • company culture communication and satisfaction poll,
  • cross department collaboration and appreciation of others daily task.

Making the #GamePlan for gamification is fun! It is starting the same way that ordinary planning flow: define your business objective.

Now here comes the point whether you know the path to reach that objective or it must be discovered. Generally the first option is the case – you know the path – especially when you have steady business. Do not be confused, if your target objective is super challenging it does not mean that the path is unknown but requires extra effort maybe resources to hit. However the easiest way to identify the path is known or not, is the list of required behavior. If you are able to put together the list of required actions (something between 5-10 pcs) then you are on known path. Otherwise you need some experimental action that can be still OK at certain circumstances. All the actions on its own way should support your desired target and can not contain the same phrase as the objective itself, eq: your target is to increase the customer satisfaction rate from 73% to 77%, them “increase the customer satisfaction” is invalid action. Or if your objective is to close 10 more premium deals in the next three months, then “close 10 more premium deals” is invalid too. And of course make sure the actions are measurable. Now you have a list of actions. But wait a minute here… and rethink the list.

If your list of actions is wrong your are steering your team to a muddy, weedy theatre of business but not to the shiny and rewarding targeted place.

Your next challenge is to understand how it fits into your team. If your team is purposeful, who is motivated on goal achievement and the required actions put them into knowledge sharing environment  – which is a comfort zone for different type of personality, then team motivation level will be struggling for sure. It is never black and white to identify the characteristic of the team. It is not straight forward, but this makes good managers and leaders. Sometimes we are not aware even of our own characteristic, The good news is that it’s not impossible, there are several methods to find it out … just make it happen!

Your at the half point – more or less. Make a decision, which way to move on!

  1. Make it quick and dirty

On the next team meeting announce it, and during the evaluation period pay thorough attention to acknowledge the listed action. It can be private or public just make it regularly… or

  1. Make it on professional way with help of gamification

Abstract your KPIs into a story, design the corresponding visuals and implement motivational game mechanics into your defined path and lets get started with fun!

Do not forget, gamification is not a game, it is not a dancing around points, badges and levels it is about to improve employee engagement based on their personality to achieve business goas! Enjoy it!